A Pie Iron Is Essential For Easy Campfire Cooking

Sandwich in metal pie iron
Sandwich in metal pie iron - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

The leaves rustle under your shoes as you walk around collecting more kindling for the fire. The fire is being relentlessly finicky, but you won't relent — it's pie iron night, and you wouldn't miss it for the world. You return to the pit, strike one more match, and throw it into the mess of tinder, blowing gently and rearranging the twigs until finally, it catches. You keep it alive, fearing another rematch, and start preparing for your pie iron dinner.

A pie iron is a cast iron vessel designed for campfire cooking. At the bottom of the appliance is a shallow container (where the food goes), usually a square or rectangle, with a hinge attached to it. Coming off the top is a metal rod of about 18 inches, the top of which is covered with a wooden handle. Multiply this design by two and attach the hinges at the bottom to create an open space for the food, and you've got a pie iron.

But why should you lug a cast iron tool to your campsite? Unlike a Dutch oven, a pie iron is lightweight, usually under 5 pounds, and packing food with a pie iron is convenient. Because the pie iron is designed for single-serve meals, you can pack smaller quantities of food. This tool is also multifaceted and can make everything from breakfast egg sandwiches to pizzas for lunch to savory dinner pies to sweet pies for dessert. It's a truly versatile item capable of making a meal for any time of day.

Read more: 13 Underrated Cuts Of Meat You Should Be Grilling

The Many Meals A Pie Iron Can Cook

metal pie irons in campfire
metal pie irons in campfire - Carol Provins/Shutterstock

If you have both an inside and outside (a filling and a crust), the possibilities of what you can make in a pie iron are almost endless. For your first meal, start with a classic: a pie iron pizza. Place a slice of bread on each buttered side of the pie iron, lather with pizza sauce, fill with your favorite toppings, and enjoy a quintessential campfire meal.

Considering it's an iron for pies, try scaling down a classic pie; for a more summery pie, try this sweet strawberry basil pie or this tart lemon blueberry pie. Or, try a savory pie, like this zucchini pie featuring eggs, cheese, and of course, zucchini. If you're not a fan of pies, you still have a plethora of options. Tuna melts are a great option, as they require little ingredients (canned tuna, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and sliced cheese). Before you embark out of your campsite for the day, fill up by experimenting with this spicy egg sandwich. If you want to stretch the use of an item so you can pack less, bring peaches to make this cheesy, chicken-and-peach-filled sandwich for dinner and this fresh peach pie for dessert.

Because most heavy-duty pie irons are made from cast iron, it's important to take care of this appliance to ensure longevity. Prior to cooking, make sure your cast iron is well seasoned. Post-cooking, be sure to fully clean the cast iron using soap (soap is fine if seasoned properly), re-season after each use, and completely dry before storing.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.